Crop physiology and nutrient dynamics

June 12, 2012 at 7:20 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Phosphorus, faba bean and wheat: intercropping
can improve not only soil fertility and nutrient
cycling, but also yields and grain quality

Two experiments are helping to understand how wheat and barley plants behave under a combination of multiple stresses: drought, heat and nitrogen deficiency. One trial measures the response of 20 barley and durum wheat genotypes to different levels of soil moisture and nitrogen fertilizer rates. The second trial evaluates six durum wheat genotypes under different combinations of moisture (irrigation levels) and temperature (early vs late planting). Both trials evaluate landraces and improved varieties as well as lines under development. The results will help identify agronomic and physiological traits that can be used in breeding programs to develop varieties that use water and nitrogen more efficiently, and tolerate drought and heat stress.

Another study examines nutrient dynamics in a cereal-legume intercrop. Legume crops secrete small quantities of organic acids through their roots, increasing the levels of plant-available soil phosphate, benefiting both components of the intercrop. An experiment conducted in partnership with Tottori University, Japan, tests a bread wheat – faba bean intercrop grown with different levels of phosphorus fertilizer. Preliminary results suggest that intercropping increases phosphorus uptake in wheat during early development. Ongoing research will measure yield effects, and the potential of intercropping systems to increase cereal yields in Mediterranean types of soils.

For more information contact Dr Mohammed Karrou, drought management specialist, email M.Karrou@cgiar.org; and Dr Rolf Sommer, soil fertility scientist, email R.Sommer@cgiar.org

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